Researchers at Otago University in New Zealand found that volunteers who regularly walked for just one minute and 40 seconds had lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
Leaving the desk for a brief walk every half hour can have a bigger impact on health than a brisk 30-minute walk before work, researchers said.
Raised sugar and insulin readings may be warning signs of Type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In the study, researchers recruited 70 healthy adults and asked them to sit for nine hours, the 'Daily Express' reported.
Their blood glucose and insulin levels were measured each time they had a meal-replacement drink. This was done after one hour, four hours and seven hours, to test how well the body absorbed sugar from foods. In second phase of the experiment, volunteers walked briskly for half an hour before sitting for nine hours.
Finally, they sat for nine hours again but this time walked around for precisely one minute 40 seconds every half hour.
The scientists found that the volunteers' blood sugar levels were lower after the brief strolls compared with when they had walked for longer and when they did not budge at all.
"Regular activity breaks were more effective than continuous physical activity at decreasing blood sugar and insulin levels in healthy, normal-weight adults," the study said. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.